2020 taught me to remember what 2016 taught me: the worst can happen. The purpose of this newsletter is to prepare you for that, and on all our minds is the next worst thing: the election. I’d bet good money that the potential horrors surrounding the election brought some of you here. Between the protests we’re already seeing due to police violence against people of color, the far-right response to those protests, and militia plots to instigate civil war, it’s difficult to see a way out of this without more unrest. Last weekend my city was encircled by a caravan of Trump supporters on the highway, waving guns and even taking a few shots at another driver.
There is no 20-day crash course on how to prepare for this upheaval. Whether it be civil unrest or civil war, we’re simply coming into the game too late, and you’re not going to become Socialist Rambo in the interim. What we can work toward, though, is being resilient to whatever comes on Election Day, and beginning your journey toward true preparedness for what happens after.
Before anything else, think about your immediate community. Think about friends you call in case of emergency. Think about where your family is. A diverse group of like-minded people will be one of your greatest assets in any emergency. Bring them in on your preps if you feel comfortable, or at least let them know that you’re here if they need you.
Your prepping goal for the election is to procure at least one week of supplies, to take beginning steps toward securing your household, and to prepare a rudimentary, lightweight bug-out bag. Your supplies constitute:
- One gallon of water per person, per day. Cheap, easy, and necessary.
- Buy a large bag of rice (according to your household) and several bags of your preference of beans. Place them in a pest-proof container or somewhere you’re sure they won’t get contaminated. Grab a couple of protein and granola bars for a little further down the list.
- Buy several dozen tea candles (each lasts 2-3 hours), a couple cans of Sterno, and several Bic lighters. All this will run you around $20.
You now have the means to drink, cook, and light your home in the event that municipal utilities cease. Being water and food secure for a week means you have some time to consider your next move, should one need to be made. A week is time for civil unrest to dissipate, for—whether you like it or not—the police or military to intervene or move on. It’s the time you need to make a break for it. Remember: you are not the protagonist in this conflict. All you’re trying to be is a survivor. You can lead the fight next time (because there will be a next time).
Second-tier preps concern security, should your week get interrupted. Home defense is a big, hard subject, and it’s likely too late for most of you to really change where you stand materially. Instead we’ll focus on what you do have, what you’re comfortable with, and what you can realistically use to deter and defend against the nightmare scenario of door-to-door brownshirts that we’re all thinking about.
Deterrence is making your door unassuming, unappealing, or impregnable. If you live in an apartment building, your options are limited. Your risks and options are greater if you rent or own a house. Regardless, have a sturdy, heavy piece of furniture you can move in front of your door and windows. Install or ask for the installation of additional locks. If you have yard space, remove any signs you might have up that would give away you’re a dirty commie. Put up an American flag—buy and mount one if you don’t have one handy. Remove any bumper stickers that suggest anything about you short of, for instance, an affinity for local sports. (This is all good advice going forward, as well. It’s called The Gray Man, and the idea is to seem as boring as it sounds.) Consider anything ostentatious or political you may have on display inside your home, and hide it. Find a secondary point in your home to which you can fall back, and be sure to have a modicum of supplies there you can access and a way to exit the building immediately—even if that means a leap into some bushes.
Defense is tricky. You will not have time to adequately train if your intention is to go out tomorrow and buy your first firearm. You’ll also have trouble finding any firearms and ammo because all the conservatives already beat you to the punch three or four times over. Trust me—I shopped around a couple days ago. The wait was two hours for slim pickings. If you own a gun, great! Do your best to find some ammunition, and stock up on it. If you do not, consider what you already have in your home. You likely have knives, a broom, maybe heavy tools like wrenches and hammers. Locate those centrally if you haven’t already, or consider keeping one handy at all times. These weapons are only to buy you time—a scenario of civil unrest in which fascists march down the street does not conclude with you fending off two or three gun-toting goose-steppers with your longest piece from Cutco.
Which brings us to our final prep: bugging out. The classic, timeless, mustard-on-a-hotdog of prepping. Bugging out follows the same principles of survival as bugging in but makes them portable and—because water is heavy—includes methods of acquisition. In this scenario you’re likely bugging out in an urban environment and trying to get the hell out of Dodge as quickly as possible—so the weight of your bag is key. A classic bug-out bag contains some bells and whistles (literally in the case of the whistles) that you just won’t find a use for in this scenario. We tend to think of bugging out as running off to the woods, but that’s rarely if ever going to be the case.
Your bug-out prep:
- Designate a safe fallback shelter that you know at least has access to water. Safe in this scenario is relative to the situation of your home—though someplace safer and not safe may not be worth the risk of venturing out. Be sure anyone in your household knows this location and knows how to get there. This shelter can be family in the next town over, a friend’s place in a different neighborhood, or even your place of work. Anyplace you can locate quickly, reliably get to, and can provide you shelter works.
Pick your bug-out bag. Be it plastic, paper, burlap, Trader Joe’s, or an actual backpack, you want it to be sturdy enough to hold your supplies on the run but hopefully not so obtrusive as to scream “I’ve got all my stuff in here.” A regular, non-military backpack will serve your purposes more than adequately. The standard for bugging out is supplies for three days, but this is a GTFO prep, and we’ll be running lighter. You will want to throw in:
- About two liters of water—too much more and you’ll be weighed down, less and you run the risk of dehydration if your fallback location is a hike. Very ideally you will also acquire a way to procure additional water. This can take the form of a Sillcock key for municipal water sources, or something like a LifeStraw-type filtration system, which lets you drink water straight from a dirty puddle or creek. Water is extremely important, but your focus is moving, and you should be well-hydrated from your home supply before you bug out.
- Food. Just those protein and granola bars mentioned earlier. You don’t want to haul your cans of beans around.
- First aid kit. A basic kit can be had in the pharmacy aisle of most supermarkets, and half of them are fairly portable, too. You’ll want to be able to patch minor wounds on the go, and, if necessary, stuff a wad of sterile gauze into something worse.
- Flashlight. Small is best—a headlamp, something with a clip to fix on the brim of a ballcap.
- A couple of those lighters you bought earlier.
- Your knife, hammer, gun, rapier wit, what have you—goes on your belt or within easy reach so you can arm yourself quickly.
- Masks. Remember, COVID-19 will spike around this time, and the fascists will be breathing down your neck.
- Spare clothes/toiletries. Clothes to change into if you get dirty can also be used as impromptu bandages. A toothbrush and the like may not seem necessary, but if you get caught at your shelter for three days you’ll be glad you brought it.
- Handy miscellany includes a portable radio, a compass, a multitool, and a sturdy pen. Not necessary, but useful. You can make up for some of these tools with foreknowledge and familiarity.
With all that you come to somewhere north of 10 pounds. Don’t feel compelled to add more because it seems light. The ideal bag weight is about 10% of your bodyweight for a 72-hour bugout, and we’re planning for a sprint, not a marathon.
Bugging out is a dangerous proposition. It means that your home is more dangerous than the journey and more dangerous than your destination—a bad situation to be in all around. Remember that before you slip out your back door, and remember that your job is not to fight your way to the heart of the fascists but simply to survive another day, to, hopefully, return home.
We don’t know how this election will turn out. What we do know is that whether or not it is peaceful, this is not the end of the danger. The people stirred up by authoritarianism are not going away, and as climate change becomes more of a threat—and something even they are unable to ignore—the fascists will marry their cause to it. If they’re defeated this November, they will return under a green banner. But we will not wait for that day. We’ll start preparing now.